The sun shined brightly, the temperatures moderated by the weekend and people and puppies responded with one of the largest Mardi Growl events ever. Last year was colder, the year before it rained, if memory serves. With great weather and a large parade, people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the people and pooches all decked out.
The first obvious and major improvement: The Fulton High School band led the charge. You can’t really have a parade without a band, can you? When they rounded the corner onto the 100 block playing, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the party was on. Further, when the parade concluded on Market Square and the band stopped playing, the Old City Buskers cranked up the Dixieland sounds and it set the tone perfectly for the festivities there. Perfect! I’d personally add a small Dixieland Band at the end (with covers on their shoes), but that may be my bias showing up.
Another factor in making the parade better this year, in my opinion, was the people. I think more were dressed for the occasion and dressed more dramatically than in previous parades. Convinced one couple must be from New Orleans to be so “all about it,” they said, no, they just wanted to dress up and ordered their costumes on the Internet.
The cream on the people parade, however, was the adorable children. I found myself struggling to remember that the dogs were the center of the event with so many beautiful children to photograph. I have to say a big, “thank you” to all the parents who let me photograph their children. Maybe at this point they know who I am, see the big camera and think I must be a professional of some sort or are just pretty laid back about strangers taking photographs of their children. But I appreciate it.
And then there were dogs. And dogs. And dogs. I have no idea how to objectively calculate the canine count, but subjectively it seemed like an ocean of dogs. Some dressed, some naked, big, small, every variety and mix I could imagine and a significant number of the didn’t walk the parade at all – they were carried or rode in their own improvised Mardi Growl floats – often children’s wagons or strollers.
The festivities on Market Square felt like the spring coming-out party for all of us who have hiding inside waiting for winter to at least ease a bit. Booths offered everything puppy from health services and information for animals to treats and photo booths. Sponsored by Radio Systems (Pet Safe, Invisible Fence, Sport Dog Brand) and benefiting Young-Williams Animal Center, the ninth annual Mardi Growl seems to get better each year.
These, of course, are only a few of the photographs I took through the event. Later I’ll post the full 99 best photographs on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page (have you “liked” that?) and many of them are as good as the ones you see here. It’s a fun event to photograph.
Final word for today: I’m leading a two-hour seminar on blogging via the Knoxville Writer’s Guild, “Writing a New Way: Blogging Your Way to Success.” If you’ve thought about writing a blog or simply want to learn about it, you may want to join us. It will take place April 16 (a chance to recover from tax day) at the Central United Methodist Church on the north end of downtown. I’ll cover what I do, but we’ll also talk about what you might want to do, how to make it work, pitfalls and opportunities. The cost is $40 with (I think) a limit of 30 to the class. It was announced last night and spaces started filling, so you might want to grab a spot while you can. I think it will be fun. You’ll find registration links and details here.